04 August 2013

The Most Delicious Panzanella


One of our favourite easy dinner dishes this summer has been panzanella. It's quick to make, refreshingly cool on a hot day, and it gets gobbled up by the Wee Lass.

Here's how I make it for 2 adults and 1 toddler ...

Most Delicious Panzanella
stale bread (good quality crusty French or Italian style bread, approximately 1 cup per person when cubed)
3 fresh tomatoes (approximately 1 per person your salad will serve)
1/2 fresh cucumber (optional)
1/2 to 1 can of diced tomatoes (optional -- desirable if your bread is rock solid stale)
4 Tbsp olive oil (really just a generous glug ... I don't actually measure it)
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar or cider vinegar)
garlic (1 clove)
shallot (optional)
Taggia olives
assorted fresh herbs (basil, thyme, oregano)
salt and pepper

Saw the stale bread into small bite-size cubes and place in a shallow salad bowl or deep pie dish. I used the end of a loaf of rosemary foccaccia. If your bread is really stale, you'll want to make sure it all gets thoroughly soaked, so that's why a shallow dish works better. Now you're going to make a juicy concoction to dump on top. You could mix it in a separate bowl first, but I always just add it to the bread as I go.

Finely chop your tomatoes (and cucumber if you're using it) into small cubes. If your bread is super stale, then add a can of diced tomatoes for extra liquid and tomatoe-y goodness (I didn't need it in this case). Drizzle on a generous amount of olive oil (use a bit more if your bread is really hard) and add the balsamic vinegar. Mix this sauce around to combine. You can add finely chopped garlic and shallot directly, but I prefer to soften the flavour of it with a quick saute. I actually forgot to add it in the pictured salad and the whole thing was still tasty.

Add a bit more olive oil if it seems like a good idea. Toss in a big spoonful of capers and enough olives for everyone to get at least 3 or 4. Finely chop a generous bunch of fresh basil, thyme, and oregano and add to your bowl. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix it and let it sit for 5 minutes before serving.


Photographs and artwork by Allison Gryski. © All rights reserved.